Whether we’re talking about PTSD from the military, from an abusive relationship, or any other type of traumatic experience, there are some things that simply should never be said to a person with PTSD, and here are a few.
1. “Maybe you should talk about it”
Well, that would probably be fantastic, only how do you do that? How do you explain not feeling comfortable in your own skin, while simultaneously trying to readjust to life outside of the traumatic experience? It’s hard to explain something to someone, when you don’t even know what to do with it yourself.
2. “Are you even listening?”
It’s hard to listen to a conversation if you’re fighting something inside your head, as much as it may hurt to feel as though your partner, friend, family member etc. is disconnected from you, but try not to take it personally. They’ll only feel worse if they feel like they’re being blamed for something that they don’t believe that they can control, and they likely become even more distant. Be supportive, be patient.
3. “Try not to think about it”
If everyone had the ability to control what they think about, there would be no such thing as mental health issues, it’s just not that easy, okay? When a part of your life changes, it’s just not easy to pick yourself back up as if you hadn’t been through anything. Not to say not to pick yourself back, because by all means do it, but it’s okay not to be okay sometimes.
4. “Why don’t you get up?”
Because trigger warnings are everywhere, loud cars, gunshots, people screaming, children screaming, fireworks. Everywhere. It’s hard enough pretending it isn’t happening in your head, let alone trying to avoid any and all triggers. You would hide too. Having the courage just to do simple things like getting up and leaving the house is admirable when it feels impossible, do not judge the process.
5. “Shouldn’t you be over it by now?”
Who are you to say when a person should or should not be over an experience that traumatized them? Nobody has the right to judge anyone on how they deal with their pain, it’s personal, it’s a process, and no matter how long that process takes, it’s okay.
6.”It’ll just take time”
Okay, okay, so this one isn’t that bad, not on its own at least, but when an outsider has unrealistic expectations in how you deal with your issues, and an unrealistic time frame to it in, it becomes a problem.
7. “I understand.”
I understand is meant to be a statement to let someone know that you’re there for them, and I hate to be the ‘Negative Nancy’ of the situation, but nobody understands PTSD except the people with PTSD, and the I understand can sometimes be insulting, though it’s usually never meant to be.
Dear person I love with PTSD,
I don’t understand either, no matter how much I wish I did, because I love you so much, I don’t understand what that’s like. For what it’s worth, I know that it feels impossible, I know that it feels hopeless, and I am so so sorry. I’m sorry is so empty, but from the pit of my soul I’m sorry, I’d do anything to take your place. You’re not alone, I’m with you, I love you.
Melanie Hickox is 25, she lives in a small town in NC, and she is a newly-wed. Melanie is a mommy to a fur baby, and her life revolves around her two passions in life, writing, and the human thought process. Melanie loves connecting with everyone, come talk with her.